The colonial era comes alive amid the streets and historic homes of Maryland's capitol.
Maryland's three-century-old capitol city is a blend of perfectly preserved Colonial, Victorian and Federal architecture that gently rises along the shores of the fabled Chesapeake Bay and Severn River. Start your journey with a tour - self-guided (with an audio tape featuring Walter Cronkite), on a minibus, or led by a Colonial-era costumed guide.
You'll soon be immersed in one of America's most enchanting cities. From the magnificent William Paca mansion and its two acres of gardens to the majestic Chase-Lloyd, Charles Carroll and Hammond-Harwood houses, you'll find that much of Annapolis has remained intact since its inauguration as a state capitol in 1695. The historic City Dock has been in use for more than three centuries, and the grand Maryland State House boasts America's largest wooden dome constructed without nails.
Part of Annapolis' charm comes from the two celebrated institutions of higher learning that call it home. Start the back-to-school portion of your journey at the United States Naval Academy, which has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 1845 but has always stayed true to age-old traditions. At the Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center, you can pick up a map or join a guided tour to gain insight into the rigorous life of a midshipman. On the tour, you'll see Bancroft Hall, one of the largest dormitories in the world (it houses all 4,000 students!), and the Herndon Monument, which is ascended each year by the first-year "plebes" (a task made all the more challenging by the upperclassmen who slater the obelisk with slippery lard). Afterward, go to the Naval Academy Museum to learn about legendary naval leaders like John Paul Jones and tour the amazing model ships and memorabilia collected over the centuries.
Just a short walk from the Naval Academy is a school of an entirely different sort, St. John's College. The third oldest college in the nation counts Francis Scott Key among its alumni and bases its curriculum solely on literary classics known as "The Great Books."
London Town, one of Maryland's early settlements, never grew to become a full-fledged city, but remnants of the past remain, and you can explore them at the Historic London Town House and Garden, site of the state's largest on-going archeological dig. Overlooking the South River, the land looks today much as it did when the home was built. Spend the morning roaming eight acres of beautiful gardens and woods that surround the house.
Nearby, on the West River, the restored Capt. Salem Avery House will introduce you to the life of a 19th-century Chesapeake Bay waterman. For those motivated to find their own sea legs, climb aboard one of the many tour boats that ply the waters of the Bay and sail past a man-made wonder, the awe-inspiring Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Maryland State House